Green Innovations

Developing renewable and clean technology companies in New York

Friday, May 18, 2012

Proof of Concept centers to connect energy innovators with business investors

ALBANY – The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced $15 million to launch three "Proof of Concept" Centers across the state to help inventors and scientists turn high-tech, clean-energy ideas into entrepreneurial successes.

The Proof-of-Concept Centers will invite universities, scientists, and research organizations to partner with business experts and early-stage investors in order to move technical innovations beyond the lab and into the market. At a time when New York is growing its clean-energy economy, the centers will invest in the world-class research taking place in the state, while helping bridge the gap between the maturing of an idea in a research environment and the creation of a successful business.

"These centers will strengthen New York's already robust clean technology sector and help create new public-private partnerships between our scientific research institutions and business community," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

NYSERDA will invest up to $5 million per site over a five-year period, with cost-sharing required – to create the centers within an appropriate organization. The centers will accelerate the commercialization of innovations, particularly through the creation of new start-up companies, while connecting the developers of promising new technologies with business mentors and potential investors.

Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA, said, "There is a key gap at the proof-of-concept stage of product development. The goal of this program is to create an innovation ecosystem that helps turn promising cleantech business ideas into reality. By funding these new centers, New York State demonstrates its commitment to growing the clean-energy economy and its support of economic development through public-private partnerships."

This program dovetails with a number of NYSERDA’s business programs already in place:
  • NYSERDA funds six cleantech business incubators located around the state. These programs currently work with 84 clean-tech start-ups. Since the program began, the incubator tenant companies have raised $63 million in capital while creating 38 new products and 166 new jobs.
  • NYSERDA fosters the creation of clean-energy business clusters around New York State, such as sponsoring the Energy Infotech Forum last year, which helped bring together information technology experts to find IT solutions to clean-energy needs.
  • NYSERDA supports programs that help businesses operate more effectively, such as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence program, which links a seasoned entrepreneur with a clean-energy start-up, and the Clean Tech Execs program, which helps prepare business executives with the knowledge to head a clean-energy company.
NYSERDA funding is an investment in the establishment of long-lasting programs. Proposers would have to provide a plan for the centers to continue operating after NYSERDA funding expires. Institutions interested in applying for funding have until July 18, 2012 to submit their proposals, with letters due June 6. NYSERDA expects to announce the institutions selected in fall 2012.